Kelly Skidmore publicly announces bid to become the House Democratic Leader in 2026
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, during the House Agriculture Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Skidmore will have to get by Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky to succeed the current House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell.

Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore has publicly announced her intention to become the next House Democratic Leader for the 2026-28 term — and unveiled a slew of endorsements for the job.

But the Boca Raton Representative, now the House Democratic Caucus Policy Chair first will have to get by Rep. Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland who is also making a bid to succeed the current Democratic House Leader Fentrice Driskell of Tampa.

Driskell’s term ends in 2026.

Skidmore’s prepared statement highlighted her bona fides as one of the longest-serving members among the House Democrats.

“I am excited about the opportunities for the Democratic Caucus and know that we are strongest and most effective when we are united,” Skidmore said. “One thing that I have learned over the past 19 years in the Legislature is that consistency is critical to ensuring success.”

Skidmore counts her time between 1996 and 2005 as a legislative assistant in the House and Senate. She served a previous stint as a Representative between 2002 and 2010, before running again in 2020.

“The House Democratic Caucus knows that as leader I offer steady and committed leadership and will not abandon them for personal gain or political ambition,” Skidmore continued. “I am grateful and humbled by the overwhelming support from my colleagues in the House so far.”

Among the Democrats, only Rep. Bruce Antone of Orlando, has served longer than Skidmore as a Representative. He served between 2002 and 2006 and then between  2012 and 2020, to be elected again in 2022.

Hunschofsky, the current Whip of the Democratic Caucus, is running for her third term in 2024. Hunschofsky started winning elections in 2013, however, first as a Parkland City Commissioner and then as Mayor. She came into the spotlight in 2018 as she led Parkland through the aftermath of the state’s worst school shooting in 2018 that left 17 dead.

Tuesday’s release about Skidmore’s candidacy also highlighted endorsements from Democratic Reps. Kristen Arrington of Kissimmee, Kevin Chambliss of Homestead, Dan Daley of Coral Springs and David Silvers of West Palm Beach.

Daley said he supports Skidmore “wholeheartedly” for the way she’s led the party and alluded to its less-than-ideal position. The Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers, which empower them to cut Democrats out of the debate entirely.

“Representative Skidmore has consistently demonstrated her commitment to serving the people of Florida,” Daley said. “During some of our toughest moments, she has been an invaluable member of our caucus, providing us with the expertise, knowledge, and leadership needed to navigate challenging times.”

Chambliss cited Skidmore’s skill at uniting people.

“Her ability to unite people, find common ground, and effectively communicate our values to the people of Florida will be instrumental in building bridges and the support necessary to enact positive change,” Chambliss said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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